This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Polo Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

There's a good choice of engines in the Polo and all are economical. The range kicks off with a three-cylinder 1.2-litre which is available in two power outputs of 55bhp and 65bhp. It's a lively unit, with plenty of go at low speeds, decent economy and - as it's a three-cylinder - sounds characterful too. These were upgraded to 60bhp and 70bhp in mid-2005.

The larger 1.4-litre has 75bhp in standard form or 100bhp in Sport trim and as a result is easy to drive in town or on the motorway - but needs to be worked quite hard to get decent pace from it. The top petrol engine is the smooth 1.6-litre unit with 105bhp that is only available in Sport trim. The diesel range starts with a 1.4 TDI which was originally available with 75bhp.

There's also a 1.9 SDI with 65bhp but this noisy and lumpy engine is best avoided. Instead go for the 1.9 TDI that comes with 100bhp or 130bhp - the latter is incredibly punchy although both units are noisy and the power delivery isn't particularly smooth or predictable.

The Polo is a good all-rounder with a precise gear change, safe road manners and light steering. The soft suspension makes for a comfortable ride but there's a fair amount of body roll in corners and the Polo lacks the agility of the latest Vauxhall Corsa. However thanks to the easy steering it's simple to drive in town and a doddle to park - but on country lanes this counts against it and there's little communication from the front wheels.

The Bluemotion models have narrower tyres with lower rolling resistance for improved aerodynamics and fuel economy but as a result, this model has lower grip levels in corners than others in the range.